Yesterday's Daily Journal reports (subscription required) that two cases (City of Modesto v. Dow and City of Modesto Redevelopment Agency v. Dow) are now in the jury's hands and may result in verdicts against chemical manufacturers for contamination of groundwater and drinking water. The cases brought by government agencies seek to hold Dow Chemical Company, Occidental Chemical Corp., PGG Industries, Inc., R.R. Street, Vulcan Materials Co. and others liable for perchloroethylene in the City's water supply.
The case has been up and down the appeals courts for years, and certainly won't stop here. After the verdicts are in (no matter what they are), we can expect several more years of appeals. Some $4,000,000 is at issue here, but the money's not really the point for the chemical companies.
It's the precedent.
If the chemical companies are held liable in Modesto, then it will likely trigger nationwide litigation that will make tobacco litigation look like a puff of smoke. Not only will the government be able to sue, but also likely the users and individuals affected by contamination, as well.
You can bet there will be lots of somebodys lobbying Congress.